Noticing the difference: dialogue reformulation and peer teaching

At the end of the previous lesson, in pairs students wrote a dialogue trying to incorporate some language from a listening text. The phrases in question were: Oh you know, same old same old How do you mean? By the way,   In terms of what exactly?  After all I was wondering if you could… … Continue reading Noticing the difference: dialogue reformulation and peer teaching


L2-L1-L2 board race translations

An alternative board race with translation. Works in monolingual classes. Not essential that the teacher speaks students' language. Good for checking meaning and vocabulary review. Procedure: Put students into teams and play a board race to write a list of recently studied language: 2. Ask students to then write the translation next to each item: … Continue reading L2-L1-L2 board race translations

Reading activities for when you are using a coursebook to teach EAP

Coming to the end of an advanced reading and writing EAP course, it’s good to take stock of useful reading activities to accompany the coursebook.   Annotating the text A colleague got me onto this simple and effective activity. Students read and annotate the text with comments, symbols, questions, markings, and highlights. All of this … Continue reading Reading activities for when you are using a coursebook to teach EAP

Scheffler on The Lexical Approach

The lexical approach vs the grammar syllabus.

How are we supposed to know where to even begin “teaching lexically”? There are some fundamental questions in the middle of this post relating to the principles (or lack of them) of approaching teaching and learning from a lexis / chunks first perspective.

There are no answers at the moment.


In January 2015, ELTJ published a commentary with the title Lexical priming and explicit grammar in foreign language instruction, which provoked a reply and counter-reply in subsequent issues. Scheffler (2015) argues that, pace Hoey’s theory of lexical priming, “lexis should be subordinated to grammar in FL teaching.”  Scheffler reminds us that Hoey sees lexical priming as “the mechanism that drives language acquisition”; that the successful language learner recognises, understands and produces lexical phrases as ready-made chunks; and that, consequently, teachers should concentrate on vocabulary in context and particularly on fixed expressions in speech. Scheffler’s reply is that mastery of lexical associations takes too long to be a viable objective for classroom-based foreign language learning and that grammar-based teaching is more efficacious.

According to Scheffler, in order to reach proficiency through learning lexical chunks, EFL learners have two options: either they use the same subconscious mechanism that operates in L1 acquisition, or they consciously…

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Reading Support Worksheets for EAP

Reading Support Worksheets

Clare's ELT Compendium

Much is said in published literature about the necessity of EAP students reading authentic academic texts, and also about providing scaffolding and support for them to do so. I believe lecturers and academic tutors teaching their subject content in English and/or on a CLIL-based approach will also need to help students digest the readings for their classes.

Still, I often hear complaints from teachers that they set preparatory reading, but then found in the lesson that students were unable to discuss or work with the ideas from the reading, despite their claims that they did actually read the text. 

One way I’ve found to help students engage with the texts they are asked to read, then, is what I call ‘Reading Support Worksheets’. 

Reading Support Worksheets can help students to focus on the parts of a text or the ideas and concepts mentioned, so that they are better prepared to discuss…

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Making the language syllabus visible when not using a coursebook

A week or so in, managed to wean an adult class off the designated coursebook.   I think some of them were being polite when they answered that, but still I think it was fair to pull away from the book. Didn't want to completely cut and run though, so continued creating materials (and gradually … Continue reading Making the language syllabus visible when not using a coursebook

Scholarship Circles

Scholarship Circles: teacher-led PD groups

Lizzie Pinard

In this post, I’m going to write about something that I had no knowledge of until I started working at Sheffield University this year: Scholarship Circles (SC). “Er, what is an SC?” I hear you say. (Well, at any rate, that was my first question when met with the term for the first time!) Don’t worry, just read on and all will become clear!


This is a form of teacher development.

Up till now, for me, CPD has mostly meant either something I do myself, in my own time – for example, seeking out opportunities to be published (materials writing, article writing etc), blogging, reading ELT-related literature, using Twitter and so on – or attending (and occasionally delivering) workshops at work. Of course it has also entailed being observed and being given feedback on that. IHPA had a good CPD programme, with regular workshops for teachers and encouragement to do…

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